Unreliable is a tough reputation to shake

Twitter used to be down so often it made the site's "fail whale" famous enough to be profiled in The New York Times. However, as Twitter's popularity has exploded and the hoopla surrounding it has become overbearing, the fledging company has gotten its uptime act together.

Five Twitter tools

But last Thursday was an exception. In this case, a denial-of-service attack was the culprit, but to the Twitter community and its ever-more-vocal critics, this was just one more example of the company not living up to its hype.

Wrote one blogger: "Twitter is down! This seems to be happening more, recently, than in the last several months. What's going on, guys? It's going to be tough to become the next AT&T if you're dead at 9 a.m. on a Thursday."

Many of the early headlines about the outage carried the word "again."

While the data doesn't support the suggestion that Twitter downtime is happening more often, the impression does show how difficult it can be for a company to shake a bad reputation.

According to the Web monitoring company Pingdom, this was Twitter's first outage of more than 5 minutes since June 16. Over the past six months, the site has had just under eight hours of downtime for an uptime record of 99.8%.

Pingdom first flagged Twitter's improved uptime performance in a report released last February that noted the site had 84 hours of downtime in 2008, the worst performance among 15 social networking companies. "A full 84 percent of Twitter's downtime came during the first half of 2008, when the service was still struggling with stability issues," Pingdom wrote. "July and onward has seen a significant improvement for the service."

That improvement continued through the first seven months of 2008, Thursday's nearly three-hour, attack-related outage notwithstanding.

Twitter is back up (if not exactly humming) as I type. What will take a while longer, apparently, is for the company to recover its reputation.

'I now pronounce you monetized'

If there's anything worse than a fabulous YouTube video being pulled off-line over a copyright beef it might be a content creator not being fairly compensated for the use of his or her efforts. (Hey, consider my line of work.)

So it's kind of cool to see both sides win in the case of "Jill and Kevin's Big Day" wedding video vs. Chris Brown's hit recording "Forever." (If you haven't seen the video, head for YouTube; we'll wait.)

What great fun … at least until the video went hyper-viral and accumulated more than 10 million views in less than a week. It rocketed to the tops of social media sites such as Digg and Reddit. The wedding party participants were instant TV morning-show stars, too. … But Chris Brown had yet to be heard from.

An in-house YouTube blogger explains what happened next:

"At YouTube, we have sophisticated content management tools in place to help rights holders control their content on our site. The rights holders for 'Forever' used these tools to claim and monetize the song, as well as to start running Click-to-Buy links over the video, giving viewers the opportunity to purchase the music track on Amazon and iTunes. As a result, the rights holders were able to capitalize on the massive wave of popularity generated by 'JK Wedding Entrance Dance' — in the last week, searches for 'Chris Brown Forever' on YouTube have skyrocketed, making it one of the most popular queries on the site."

And everyone lives happily ever after.

I now pronounce my in-box open: buzz@nww.com.

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